Private equity: more lawyers in the house

Private equity: more lawyers in the houseNearly half the lawyers working at private equity houses are having their salaries ;significantly enhanced through receiving shares of fund’s profits.

The news comes as an increasing number of ­private equity houses look to hire in-house counsel, with Apax the latest house searching for an internal lawyer.

Bridgepoint ;hired ­Travers Smith partner Charles Barter (pictured) as its first general counsel last year.

According to research from recruiters Sheffield Haworth, salaries for in-house private equity lawyers range from £70,000 to more than £150,000, with 32 per cent of in-house lawyers earning between £111,000 and £130,000. Around 16 per cent are paid more than £150,000.

The ability to enhance salaries with profit shares, known as ‘carry’, makes these jobs appealing to lawyers looking to leave ­private practice.

One senior private equity lawyer said: “Carry is the carrot. It’s the share in the profits of the fund after it’s reached a certain hurdle.”

Of the in-housers surveyed by Sheffield Haworth, almost half said they were included in the carry, which in some cases can run into millions.

Senior consultant Huw Jones, who carried out the survey, said: “General counsel at these places who are adding real value are going to be rewarded as such.”

While ;the ;economic ­climate means profits at most private equity houses will be hit, they are keener than ever to hire in-house counsel as one way of ­reducing risk.

A total of 22 per cent of funds surveyed said they would need to hire legal staff in 2009.